Planning Your Ceremony Music

  Questions to ask yourself when planning ceremony music:

Question 3: Traditional or contemporary ?

Choosing ceremony music can be tricky. First you think about what music you like...but then you think about what your parents, or Nana, or Aunt Ethel likes.  As in so much of wedding planning, it becomes  a balancing act between your ideal vision and expectations of others.

Many couples try to decide between "Contemporary" vs. "Traditional" music.

Here are some of my  thoughts on Traditional vs. Contemporary music:

*Some of my clients want all traditional classical music to set a certain tone.  Others want "anything but Canon in D", no classical... and that's cool also . If you know you want to go one way or the other, then go for it .

*To me, after 100's of weddings, there are really no bad music choices. Almost any song...or any combination... will work and work beautifully.  Of course, I play guitar which is extremely versatile. Almost everyone loves the sound of guitar, and it has the ability to make Bach come alive, then do the same with a Beatles tune, or a Pearl Jam tune and have them flow smoothly together.

*So if you can't decide, or you want to satisfy a variety of tastes, consider mixing traditional and contemporary ... Some of the coolest ceremonies I've worked on, have used a traditional processional to bring the party in followed by a contemporary processional for the bride....Pachelbel or Beethoven will satisfy Aunt Ethel, and The canon in D will put every female guest immediately in wedding mood. Then the bride can enter to whatever resonates for her and the groom. Everybody wins. And I can tell you from experience that it will all flow perfectly .

*There is some music that seems to fit both contemporary and traditional weddings... music that everybody knows and loves.  That's why if you look at the song lists on my website, you'll see a number of Beatles tunes, or some "classics" like Can't Help Falling or Moon River. They kind of bridge the gap for everyone. Beatles tunes always go over well with everyone from grandmothers to little kids.

* Remember, as a rule, people like music they recognize, and with an instrumental that usually means that they are familiar enough with a song to have the words running mentally in the background. So if you want to use a special song that might not be familiar to many of your guests, consider having it sung...especially since the lyrics are probably important to you.

 (I'll talk more about incorporating "special songs" in my next post  on Vocal vs. Instrumental music )

*Just an observation on choosing music in general... I'll sometimes work with clients who start by telling me what they don't want ..." we don't like classical music", or "we don't like country music". Starting from a negative premise ( in life as well as music)is not usually the best way to go...Try not to create categories of music that you don't like.  Like most musicians, I don't see the labels of music types as being very is music...the different styles/genre's are really more alike than different ( look at Lady GaGa's recent duet album with Tony Bennet ). So don't worry about categories... go with songs you like, not a style you like,

... after all  chances are that your guest list is a pretty mixed bag :), so don't be afraid to mix it up in your music...

As you plan your ceremony music, you might get some ideas by visiting my website to see some lists of songs I often play.

and feel free to e-mail me  if you have questions about this topic or your wedding music ideas.



Dwight Phetteplace; Dwight's Wedding Guitar


TheKnot "Best of Weddings"    and      WeddingWire "Brides' Choice"



Next time:   Vocal or Instrumental and incorporating special your song ?

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